National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said today that during President Trump’s first visit to a foreign country—Saudi Arabia—Trump would urge “our Muslim allies to take a strong stand against radical Islamist ideology, an ideology that uses a perverted interpretation of religion to justify crimes against all humanity.” No word on whether that message will also be directed at a leader Trump may meet on his trip who is literally under indictment for crimes against humanity.
The AP reports that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has been invited by Saudi Arabia to an upcoming summit with Trump. The International Criminal Court issued a warrant for Bashir’s arrest in 2010. He has been charged with crimes including genocide, murder, torture, and rape, committed by his forces in the Darfur region of Sudan between 2003 and 2008. Bashir has made a mockery of the charges, traveling widely in recent years to a number of countries—mainly in Africa and the Middle East—that have chosen not to comply with the arrest warrant, though he had a close call in South Africa in 2015. While U.S.-Sudan relations have improved a bit in recent years, it’s hard to imagine either of the two previous U.S. administrations allowing Bashir to appear at the same event as the president.
But this, of course, is a new administration, which has more or less made contempt for the concept of human rights an official policy. The AP notes that Sudan is a member of the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, a campaign the Trump administration has strongly backed. In March, the White House lifted Obama-era restrictions on arms sales to Bahrain, another member of the coalition, which had been put in place over human rights concerns.
It’s not clear whether the Trump administration has any plans to change the U.S. stance toward Bashir’s government. The U.S. lists Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism and it was one of the countries included in Trump’s proposed travel ban. But Bashir seems to have hope. He’s called Trump a “forthright person” who “focuses on the interests of the American citizen, as opposed to those who talk about democracy, human rights and transparency.”